Praying for Biden and Trump

For a good stretch of my early years, prayer was a confounding exercise.  My family regularly went to church – where the congregation prayed while I dealt with itching legs from my flannel pants.  We said grace before dinner, which invariably became a contest over which one of the four of us would get to say it.  I said my prayers at bedtime, asking God to bless my family and friends – and my beloved dog Skippy.  Yet embedded in these prayers was a fear:  would bad things happen—to me or the others I named, if I didn’t pray?  There was also an existential questioning:  do these prayers work?, do they matter?, does the God I am praying to really exist?, and if so, what does he look like?, where does he live?  Is God necessarily a man?

Over time my prayer has moved from being an enterprise of petitioning for a desired outcome – to heal my grandfather from heart disease; to get a date, or at least recognition, from a girl I was attracted to; to give poor people a joyful and present-filled Christmas – to a process of connecting with a mysterious presence that provides a sense of clarity and hope.  While I still engage in prayer that directs the heart to join God in blessings, healings and thanksgiving; more of my prayer now is a discipline to open the heart – to the silent presence of a God I cannot see, but is a mystery who can help set me free from anger, resentment, and fear. A God who,and a Presence that, I believe, can help me let go of individuals and situations which seep into my psyche and play havoc with my soul; and enable me to be a more effective and faithful servant.

For several years now I have included Donald Trump in my daily prayers.  And the petition is not to temper his bluster or transform his regular litany of lies, much as that would be a positive outcome for everyone; but to give him over. Donald Trump has taken up residence in most everyone’s psyches (allies and foes alike).  Narcissists can do that – and indeed want that.  In my prayer, I give Donald Trump over to the Divine Presence, so I don’t have him preening and dancing in my soul. 

This practice helps, but I need to keep at it.

In the past two weeks I have added Joe Biden to my daily prayers.  His disappointing, if not disastrous, performance at the June 27 debate, along with his defiance and stubbornness in its aftermath, has crept into my consciousness – and I can’t get it out.  I don’t think President Biden intends to take root in my, and God knows how many other, psyches. He is too good a man and too busy defending himself; but there he is.  His defiance, stubbornness and anger, triggers my own.

I have also learned over the years that prayer has power.  A friend of mine has claimed that one of the reasons nuclear weapons have not been dropped on the human family since Hiroshima and Nagasaki is because millions of people have prayed that they not be used.  When Bishop Desmond Tutu came to the church I served in Massachusetts years ago, he thanked the congregation for their prayers.  Your prayers, he said, ended apartheid in South Africa.

I can’t prove that prayer has the power to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.  I don’t know that prayer had the power to end apartheid.

But it could.  That is the mystery of it all.

What I do know is that my daily prayers for Donald Trump and Joe Biden is a regular purging that my soul needs.  I can give each of them over to a God who (that) in faith I believe can deal with them much better than I can.  A Divine Presence that has the capacity to perhaps heal, transform – and definitely bless the two current candidates for President.

The purging helps to wash away my fear, anger and resentment which, given the characters and chaos of life, always come back.  There are many things that clog the spiritual heart.  Prayer can open it up.


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